Sunday March 24   3rd Lent

Scriptures:Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Luke 13:1-9

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’

 

“Shelf Life”

 

As I get older and my years of working with my hands begin to catch up with me, I am getting more aches and pains.  If I add to this the fact that each year more of my contemporaries are showing up on the obituary pages in the local papers, I am brought to one simple conclusion: we all have a “shelf life”.  Now I am not saying we are predestined to die a certain day; we are not like a jug of milk with a perish date printed on our foreheads.  However, we can, like that jug of milk, do thing to hasten our demise.  Each time a jug of milk is left out just a little too long, it hastens the perishing process.  Each time we do something which compromises our health, we do the same time.  On the other hand, unlike the milk, we can heal our bodies to some extent and through healthy practice tack so time back on.  We are not as fragile as a jug of milk, but we are also not impervious.

No we do not know the day and time of our passing, but we do know that we cannot live forever.  In fact, the Holy Scriptures leads us to believe that 120 yrs. is the cut off point for all born after the Flood.  This seems to pan out when looking at the life of even great Bible heroes as Abraham and Moses.  Yes someone occasionally reaches and even surpasses this amount, but it is so rare that it can truly be considered a fluke or perhaps a special blessing from God. 

So, we do have a maximum shelf life.  It varies from person to person and can be somewhat controlled based on lifestyle choices, but it cannot be overridden completely.  The question then becomes “what do we do about it?”  Firstly, we can live each day to its fullest, or at least as well as we can.  Secondly, we can refuse to worry about it for Jesus tells us in Luke 12,

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Thirdly, we can give our hearts to God.  In this week’s scripture, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we will all meet our earthly end at some point, whether by accident, natural causes, or otherwise.  Therefore it is very important that we seek the LORD.  In what was essentially a recruiting campaign for his Methodist Societies and the Christian Faith as a whole, John Wesley made clear his belief on who must come to the Faith with the following statement, …all who desire to flee from the wrath to come and be saved from their sins.”  That may seem a bit bold and even harsh by today’s standards, but it is also very true and in the spirit of that which Jesus proclaims above. 

This means we now have that which we need to make an informed decision.  We know we have a limited amount of time to be on this earth.  We know that we cannot know the day of our passing and that it can happen at any time; which should add some urgency to this.  We also know that there are dire consequences for our indecisions and/or poor decisions.  We also know to whom we must turn to avoid those dire consequences. 

This information should make our decision easier.  Unfortunately, many still hesitate.  Perhaps they are unwilling to relinquish control of their lives.  Perhaps they are just not interested in the message.  Or perhaps they simply are afraid or unwilling to admit they are mortal and will someday pass from this life.  Many people have trouble dealing with their eventual death.  For those who live for the LORD, we should not be troubled by this because we should have the confidence that we are not perishing, but passing into a better and everlasting life.  Yes, our bodies have a shelf life, but our souls belong to the LORD and will someday be in everlasting paradise.

Pastor Mark

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